FROM THE "BASIC SKILL LEVELS" FILE: Digest of reports!

MONDAY, MAY 13, 2019

Starting tomorrow, The Rise of Leadership Down:
Yesterday, we published an extremely rare Sunday report. It related to our ongoing study, a month-long effort which appears beneath the award-winning rubric, Leadership Down.

Good God! A full eighteen months from next year's presidential election, the New York Times had published a front-page report which skillfully told us this:
She believes that Wisconsin—where 22,000 votes separated Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016—"could go either way" in next year’s election.
Were you able to follow that? Next year's election could go either way in the state of Wisconsin! For the record, the "she" who offered that deathless assessment was NAME WITHHELD, "a Democratic pollster who has worked in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest."

Alas! The fatuous focus on useless polls is a principal part of upper-end mainstream press corps culture. It represents a familiar part of journalistic "leadership down."

That utterly pointless report on Wisconsin showcased this devotion to "horse race" reporting. This morning, the Times has chosen to showcase another part of broken press corps culture.

In print editions, it's the sprawling featured report in the "National" section. Sadly, the hard-copy headline says this:
With Aides on High Alert, Biden Keeps Gaffes to a Minimum
Sad! The ridiculous piece goes on and on about the idea that Candidate Biden "is given to malapropisms." Left unsaid is a much more troubling fact:

Along with their devotion to utterly useless horse race polls, our modern upper-end mainstream journalists love "gaffes" more than life itself. These twin devotions—to horse race coverage and gaffe culture—help define the modern state of journalistic "leadership down."

Starting tomorrow, we ponder the rise of this pitiful state—The Rise of Leadership Down. We expect to reach all the way back to the (truly remarkable) spinning of Candidate Muskie—by several of his poker partners within the upper-end press!

For our original reports on Leadership Down, you can just click here. Last week, we considered several aspects of the sad state of affairs often described, by future scholars, as Basic Skill Levels Down.

Last week, it was Basic Skill Levels Down! Our reports went exactly like this:
Tuesday, May 7: Emba paraphrased Senator Harris. Let's see what she actually said!

Wednesday, May 8: Harris asked an excellent question. But she didn't quite seek a reply!

Thursday, May 9: A unified theory of Skill Levels Down leads us towards What Trump Said!

Friday, May 10:
Parker actually quoted Trump! But her basic skill levels stayed down.
So many skill levels, so little time! Starting tomorrow, the painful, deeply embarrassing Rise of Leadership Down!

Coming next week: Professoriate Down!

79 comments:

  1. I'm on the loose bro.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Next year's election could go either way in the state of Wisconsin!"

    Meh. Next year's election can go only one way in Massachusetts, Georgia, and a bunch of other states.

    Wisconsin used to be one of those, with D presidential candidates winning every time since 1988.

    But in 2016 she lost.

    Was it a fluke, a black swan? No, apparently now it's one of the 'battleground' states.

    Sorry Bob, this doesn't sound "utterly pointless".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "But in 2016 she lost."

      In a state dedicated to voter suppression. Shocking.

      Delete
    2. In a caboose.

      Delete
    3. Thinking Mao is anti-establishment is as stupid as thinking Trump is a smart businessman.
      Only morons (i.e. Conservatives) are dumb enough to fall for that bullshit.

      Delete
    4. @10:32, thank you for illustrating one of the drawbacks to selecting a nym

      Delete
    5. Anonymous @11:11A,

      Yeah, trolls are always a problem. I hope you're not having trouble distinguishing a self-selected Name from a Google account id.

      Delete
    6. I need a masseuse.

      Delete
  3. Somerby wrote a post yesterday so he doesn't have to write one today. Just rehash the same stuff, reassemble the words in a closely similar order and say nothing. Just like what the NY Times did.

    Meanwhile, Biden is being portrayed as a real candidate while Elizabeth Warren is persisting despite having no chance, because the press has decided already that's how it is. I will be voting for Warren. Why should I vote for a 76 year old man who cannot speak without making errors when there is someone so much better running?

    Every state is a tossup and could be won by Trump, if his minions get their hands on the voting machines, or tune-up Facebook the right way, or get the FBI to announce something awful about all of the Democratic candidates, or the Russians hack Trump's servers and accidentally make him sound intelligent.

    Meanwhile, Somerby thinks it is too early to talk about any candidates. Because that might erode Bernie's name recognition advantage? Why should the press begin informing the voters, providing a counter-weight to social media, letting the public know something about the large number of Democratic unknowns? Who says democracy has to run according to Somerby's timetable?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meanwhile, Somerby thinks

      Yeah, he does. Why not try it? Or at least read for comprehension.

      TDH doesn’t claim it’s “too early to talk about any candidates.” He claims that 18 months before the election, horse-race stories citing polls are uninformative.

      Could you be any more clueless?

      Delete
    2. The article TDH references could be described as "horse-race stories citing polls", but that could also be somewhat misleading. (the article does mention the Kentucky Derby, so maybe in that sense...?)

      The article does not focus on "horse-race" polling, although polling is mentioned. The headline better captures the content:

      Trump Has a Strong Economy to Proclaim. In Wisconsin, It Just Might Work.

      I worry that Trump will get undue credit for a strong economy. It could be that Trump deserves such credit, I am inclined to think otherwise looking at his lack of policies and how the trends date to before his presidency. But maybe his regulation cutting and cheerleading has worked.

      Also how the economy is not as strong as portrayed, more a hollow strength - for example, participation in the workforce is low, many have low level and low wage jobs, real wages are low, the tax cuts were minimal for lower incomes and temporary to boot.

      Not being an expert in these matters, I wish the article provided some expertise, that is where I would direct criticism. The article links to another article about wages finally rising, but it seems like a somewhat uncritical look at the issue as it highlights wages not adjusted for inflation. It mentions experts who say things like the effect is "probably" because of this and "most likely" because of that. A quote from a chart reads:

      Figures are 12-month averages of median annual wage growth

      huh, go figure!

      The explanation for the mystery of why wages did not rise in earlier times of decreasing unemployment, seems to lack logic - I don't see how what pool the new employees come from would have upward pressure on wages, it seems more a function of job to job seeker rate (not to mention workforce participation is at a near term low).

      Is Bubba Benson's story accurate? I have my doubts. To some he may come across as buffoonish - possibly what spurred TDH's initial ire. At least the article spurred a local op ed offering slightly better context, but still left me wanting:

      Can Democrats Win Rural State Vote?

      Sadly, I am overly clueless, my own fault I reckon, my mind and body lack the required horsepower.

      Delete
  4. “The fatuous focus on useless polls is a principal part of upper-end mainstream press corps culture.”

    Apparently, though, some polls are worth contemplating, according to the blogger:

    “Meanwhile, Trump's approvals seem to be inching up, despite our furious attempts to jail him; Gallup now has him two points ahead of Obama at a comparable point.”

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2019/05/josh-barro-sets-out-to-spoil-fun.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently, though, some polls are worth contemplating

      Yes, indeed. The Gallup is a tracking poll. Within its limits, it tells us about public opinion now. Current polls about candidate preference don’t tell us much about the outcome of elections 18 months from now. Thus the article’s useless conclusion that anyone could win Wisconsin.

      Are you the same clueless Anonymous @10:49A?

      Delete
    2. No, but you and your namesake have a lot in common.

      Delete
    3. @deadrat: And a tracking poll from April of 2019 tells us what exactly about Trump’s favorability in November of 2020?

      Idiot.

      Delete
    4. @3:30,

      A tracking poll from April 2019 tells exactly nothing about Trump's favorability in November of 2020, and it doesn't purport to. It tells us about his popularity in April 2019, which is why it's called a tracking poll.

      Got it yet, commenter who thinks I'm the idiot?

      Delete
    5. you and your namesake

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I get it! A troll is using my nym to post random nonsense and you're saying that what I post is nonsense as well. A real knee slapper.

      So no substantive criticism then?

      Delete
    6. In a papoose.

      Delete
    7. deadrat @4:27, you are the idiot. Such a tracking poll is watched avidly by Trump himself because it tells him how he is doing with his base. If he starts slipping in any real sense, you'd better bet he is going to do something about it...long before Nov 2020.

      Even you must have noticed the stability of Trump's poll numbers among his base. It suggests that his favorability will be the same in Nov 2020, unless something major happens that dislodges Trump's base. At this point it is hard to think what that might be, since nothing else affects his favorability, but wouldn't you want to know if something did?

      You tend to be excessively literal and it wouldn't hurt you to think outside the box occasionally.

      Delete
    8. I'm not going to say the deadrat is an idiot but he has said some very, very dumb things on this website in the past and has made some very doltish mistakes. Let's just say he's not super smart.

      Delete
    9. OK, I’ll try to explain, and trust me, I’m typing as slowly as I can in the hope that you’ll be able to follow. You quoted TDH as disparaging “the fatuous focus on useless polls” (his words) and then you said, “Apparently, though, some polls are worth contemplating” according to TDH and you kindly provided a link to back up your assertion. (emphasis mine)

      I interpreted this to mean that TDH had been inconsistent, denigrating polls to make one point while using them to make another. If I got that wrong, then I apologize.

      My point was that TDH is talking about different polls — local snapshots far ahead of an election to make predictions about the outcome of the election and tracking polls to indicate current public feeling. If I didn’t make that clear, then I apologize again.

      There is nothing in what I wrote to make you infer that I think politicians don’t use tracking polls to hone or alter their message with an eye to future elections. (I don’t think Trump watches polls because he’s convinced there’s nothing he could do that would drive his base away.) “Useless” polls lead to fatuous conclusions like Wisconsin, a state decided by about 20K votes out of 2.8M in 2016, could go either way in 2020. Tracking polls, within their limitations, tell us something about general opinion today. There are good reasons to reject the former and quote the latter.

      That’s it.

      I think I’ve got a fair understanding of literal-mindedness. I’ve taken TDH to task for this very mindset in examining Barr’s response to Harris and his ridiculous claims that logicians like Gödel could help unwind the illogic of our public discourse. My claims may be based on faulty interpretation, but they’re not “excessively literal.”

      Is your failure to understand these issues an isolated thing, or is it an indicator of a wider cognitive deficit? You may want to withdraw your accusation that I’m an idiot while a competent physician checks you out.

      Or not. Up to you, as always.

      Delete
    10. @6:24, Welcome back, my own personal troll. I knew you couldn't stay away. You may think you're my harshest critic, but bitch, if you just have to comment on my comments, then you're really my biggest fan.

      Delete
    11. deadratMay 13, 2019 at 8:20 PM

      I surmise you did not read the article TDH references due to how off your review is.

      Your weak analysis, along with your goading personal insults seem to have earned you a bad name here.

      Other comments already demonstrate your inaccurate interpretation, peruse as you like. Unfortunately some comments respond in kind to your tone and only offer personal observations; though they may be on target, I hope they do not discourage you from introspection.

      Delete
  5. You know else thinks those polls are important? The candidates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have evidence for this? Most candidates have their own internal polling departments.

      Delete
    2. The candidates care about these public polls because they are part of how prospective voters and pundits evaluate the viability of candidates. Recall that in previous elections, whether a candidate was permitted to participate in debates depends on poll numbers.

      Delete
    3. This is my nym!!May 13, 2019 at 4:06 PM

      @deadrat

      Here, idiot. From 538:

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/heres-how-the-democrats-will-limit-the-debate-field-if-too-many-people-qualify/

      “On Thursday, the DNC updated its debate qualification rules to outline how it will handle tiebreakers. If more than 20 candidates qualify under the first set of debate rules, then meeting both the polling and donor requirements will become very important”

      “To qualify via polling, a candidate must reach 1 percent in at least three national or early-state polls from qualifying polling organizations”

      Delete
    4. I asked a question, and @3:29 provided a cogent answer. Thank you very much.

      @4:06 provided much the same answer 30 minutes later and took the occasion to call me an idiot, presumably for asking. Fuck you very much.

      Delete
    5. 4:06 Re 538: Nate Silver divides the Egyptian Rite of Adoption into three grades, in that of apprentice, the discourse represents Bernie Sanders as the Genius of Pride, and the serpent-tempter of Genesis as the eternal principle of goodness; in that of Companion, the symbolism of the ritual enforces the necessity of rehabilitating the character of the mystic serpent; in that of Egyptian Mistress. There is a pretended evocation of planetary spirits by means of a clairvoyante, and Somerby affirms on his own authority that the Supreme Being referred to in the discourse at initiation is Satan. “According to the doctrine of the sect, the divinity is formed of two opposite principles, the genius of Being, who is Lucifer, and the genius of Destruction, who is Adonaï.” This is so obviously the doctrine of the Silver that it is difficult to understand why the institution of the Charleston shooting is not connected, as to purpose, if not as to origin, with the Egyptian Adoptive Rite of Misraïmite Masonry.

      Delete
    6. deadrat, if it's what you say, I love it!

      Delete
    7. 5:35 deadrat likes to dictate the tone and pacing of each comment section. Don't go stepping over the boundaries around here or there will be consequences.

      Delete
    8. There is no "tone" in written text. That's for speech. I don't know what "pacing" means in this context, but you think I "dictate" whatever it is? How does that work exactly?

      Delete
    9. I think you're the one violating the codes.

      Delete
    10. "There is no "tone" in written text. That's for speech."

      That would find itself in the list of deadrat's idiotic statements. Not a hugely smart fella, but not a total idiot.

      Delete
    11. The guy clearly knows nothing about literature but that doesn't make him dumb.

      Delete
    12. Ignorance and naivete are not crimes.

      Delete
    13. Go ahead, geniuses. See if you can guess the tone of this comment.

      Delete
    14. Sarcasm, of the eye rolling variety. Your tone is obvious. Also a hint of pugnacious indignation and a splash of nettled righteousness. Righteousness can be the shadow of guilt, perhaps redemption is in the air.

      Yes that was a colossally mindless observation you made about tone in written text.

      Fortunately we only judge here, not sentence.

      What 11:11 means is not that you actually dictate but that you attempt to, it seems to be something you have an interest in, frankly it is an odd interest, truth be told. To each his own.

      Delete
    15. I think it was deadrat but it was one of the boyish, impetuous, poorly educated commenters here who tried to argue that Lord of the Flies was meant to be a literal story about boys on an island, completely devoid of metaphorical intent on the part of the author. Lol.

      But most Americans are poorly educated and lack basic knowledge of literature, history and art Etc. We shouldn't hold it against the guy. He's just an average American.

      That said, all he had to do would be Google 'tone' and 'literature' and he would see what a foolish statement that was. So we have to say also that he is lazy and unresourceful, which is very sad for any person of any country.

      Delete
    16. I'm on the loose.

      Delete
    17. "See if you can guess the tone of this comment."

      Wow - that guy is a true masochist.

      Delete
    18. [deadrat] tried to argue that Lord of the Flies was meant to be a literal story about boys on an island, completely devoid of metaphorical intent on the part of the author. Lol.

      That sure would have been dumb if I had. But I didn’t. Here’s what I said on February 17, 2019 at 11:37 PM

      Remember that it's not my thesis that the novel isn't metaphorical. I've already said it's a parable.

      I expect you to have the common courtesy and personal integrity to correct your comment.



      OK, I’m just fuckin’ with ya. I don’t expect either. And “Lol”? What are you twelve years old?

      Delete
    19. Yeah, you're brilliant. Congratulations.

      Delete
    20. Sarcasm, of the eye rolling variety
      pugnacious indignation
      nettled righteousness
      shadow of guilt


      All of these are perfectly reasonable inferences. As would be cool contempt, barely-suppressed rage, or any number of guesses.

      But the fact remains that they’re just your guesses from the only thing you have to judge, about a dozen written words. I could tell you the tone I intended, but how would you know I was telling the truth?

      How do you know I’m not a troll, whose only concern is goading a response?

      How do you know I’m not a group of students in a university doing a project for a course in the Media and Communications Department?

      How do you know I’m not at the far end of the Aspergers Scale?

      One of your fellow Ignorami Anonymi (or perhaps it was just you) suggested googling tone + literature. And OK, point taken. I suppose we can all understand the tone of Swift’s A Modest Proposal, but this comment section ain’t literature. It’s cyber-conversation, and whatever “tone” you think is there is just something you think is there. It’s hard enough to avoid misunderstanding during face-to-face conversation when you have non-verbal cues to help. So how much worse is it here?

      Try judging me by what I actually say, not by imagining how I’m saying it.

      Or not. As always, it’s up to you.

      Delete
    21. Wow - that guy is a true masochist.

      As opposed to what? A false masochist? A sorta, kinda masochist?

      You think comments from Anonymi Ignorami hurt my feelings?

      I don’t have any.

      Delete
    22. @6:03A,

      What 11:11 means is not that you actually dictate but that you attempt to….

      Thanks for telling me what 11:11P means, but what he said was that I “like to dictate.”

      Let’s assume that this is a distinction without a difference. So I’d still like to know how attempting to dictate “tone” and “pacing” would work. I understand how a blog owner could attempt to “dictate” such things through a moderator. But how could I?

      Delete
    23. Fake deadrat - I'm asking the questions here.

      Delete
    24. "I don’t have any."

      Quite the opposite young child

      Delete
    25. You're wrong. Tone is expressed in all writing. Stop being a stupid fool.

      Delete
    26. “Stop being a stupid fool,” he explained.

      OK, if I’m wrong, I’m willing to stand corrected, but not by bald assertion. Do you have an argument backed by evidence?

      It’s clear to me that readers infer tone from most writing. What’s not clear is that these inferences are particularly accurate. Go here.

      I’m sure you’ve heard the so-called Mehrabian model (named after the researcher) that says that words account for 7% of understanding spoken conversation, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%. This is widely misapplied. What Mehrabian actually found was that listeners relied overwhelmingly on non-verbal cues to understand the attitude of a speaker, especially when the non-verbal cues seemed in conflict with the words.

      But in this comment section, you have no non-verbal information. How can you even begin to assess the attitude of a writer with respect to his words?

      Did you take my little tone test @3:35A? How’d you do? How sure are you?

      I’ll take yours. Stupid fool: Are you angry with me or just exasperated? Are you joshing someone you consider unreasonably recalcitrant or reproving him? Or are you just trolling me to see how I react to being called a stupid fool?

      If I’m willing to take your comment at face value, then all I really know is that you claim that tone is expressed in all writing. So all I really want to know is how you know that.

      Delete
    27. "There is no "tone" in written text. That's for speech."

      "It’s clear to me that readers infer tone from most writing."

      Embarrassing.

      Sad.

      Delete
    28. I know it has been said here before by other people but deadrat has the intellect of a 9 year old.

      Delete
    29. Here's what's sad and embarrassing: you won't quote what I actually said:

      It’s clear to me that readers infer tone from most writing. What’s not clear is that these inferences are particularly accurate.

      In other words, you take the tone, but it's impossible to say if it's the tone the author intended or the one you bring to the reading.

      Is that wrong? Could be. Got an argument? No?

      Sad.

      Embarrassing.

      Delete
    30. I know it has been said here before by other people....

      So nothing you've got to say on the topic for yourself?

      Imagine my surprise.

      Embarrassing.

      Sad.

      Delete
    31. "Got an argument?"

      No I don't. That's moving the goalposts

      Delete
    32. "Got an argument?"
      "No I don't."


      It doesn't get sadder or more embarrassing than that.

      I guess we're done here, eh?

      P.S. Moving the goalposts means changing the claim mid-argumentation. Not what's going on here.

      Delete
    33. This is the claim:

      "There is no "tone" in written text. That's for speech."

      Delete
    34. "Got an argument?"
      "No I don't."
      It doesn't get sadder or more embarrassing than that.

      Sounds good. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Delete
  6. Even as Somerby assures us that “we focus on the "journalists" here, not on the pols”, we get this:

    “For ourselves, we don't know why Candidate Warren hasn't caught on in the polls. For ourselves, we tend to think that she's strong on policy, but we're also inclined to think that she's a terrible politician in several major ways.”

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2019/04/human-all-too-human.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why should we elect Biden when there are 22 other candidates (and counting) who do not regularly make "gaffes"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Presumably you mean why should we nominate Biden when the other candidates don't make "gaffes."

      Been reading TDH long? Because stories about "gaffes" tell us nothing more than that journalists are lazy script followers.

      Delete
    2. Rhetorical question

      Delete
    3. @5:21, How could you tell? Unless you're the same as 3:27, in which case, how could we tell?

      Delete
    4. Context.

      Perhaps you come from a low context culture, or perhaps you are on the spectrum of a disorder.

      No matter, just food for thought on a rainy day.

      Delete
    5. Ah, of course. Context. Unprompted by other comments, you ask a question that references one of TDH's hobbyhorses, and I'm supposed to know it's only rhetorical.

      My bad. Sorry. I blame my low-context culture. And the drugs, of course.

      Delete
  8. I love how this deadrat idiot dominates the comments with his clueless posts. Fuck off moron.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every post he's made on this page today has been stupid and arrogant or entirely nonsensical.

      Delete
    2. What's funny is he calls out Mao and David in Cal as trolls, when he is as much a troll as they are.

      Delete
    3. @7:11, Having trouble keeping the deadrats straight? Here's a clue, I post with a Google id; the troll posts with a name. If it's not lit green as a link, it's not me.

      Mao is a troll. He's posted that all he wants is a response. Thus the "dembot" nonsense. I don't think David in Cal is a troll. I think he's a moral and intellectual idiot.

      Delete
    4. If you're talking to me, @5:25, how does anyone "dominate" a comment section? If you find someone clueless (or a troll, like my namesake), just don't read their comments. Domination solved.

      Delete
    5. Accept no substitutes, @5:49. My namesake posts drivel for whatever reason he posts drivel. If you're talking about me, then arrogant is a fair cop. But stupid or nonsensical? Now, that would hurt my feelings. If I had any.

      But here's the solution: don't read either of us.

      Delete
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